Booklist

This page is a work in progress, dedicated to the glory of God, and the edification and encouragement of His people.  

     When I was a few years old, Mama prayed that I would be a bookworm, and oh my, was that prayer answered.  Sometimes she has wished she didn't pray that.  :)  Particularly she would wish it when I would be missing for a while, and she found me up a tree somewhere in the yard with a book, or when I was distracted from my chores every five minutes because I was at the climax of my current story.  Either that, or when I was washing the dishes with a library book propped on the window sill in front of me.  (Eventually I figured out it was easier just to wash the dishes quickly and go read while all the other slow pokes finished the kitchen.)

     In hunting for good reading material, I quickly outgrew our family collection of books.  We discontinued our use of the public library because I was having trouble finding good books, and also because we had a hard time keeping up with all the books everyone brought home.  It was after this that I began heavily using the Internet as a source for reading material, and I have found that there is an enormous amount of good, bad and indifferent literature available.  Over the years though, the Lord has been showing me that some books I thought were perfectly acceptable and even praiseworthy a few years ago, are not really books I could honestly recommend as solid Christian reading.

     The purpose of this page is to address a need I see for directing people, especially busy mothers who don't have time to proof-read everything themselves, to good reading material.  There are already Christian books and websites out there for this same purpose, but I have yet to find a really good one.  Most of them are very accepting of  "classic" and popular literature, such as The Boxcar Children, The Hardy Boys, Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, and other books of the same stamp.  The reasons I will not recommend such books as these are varied, but based out of the Bible and a desire for holiness in God's people.  (Please see my blog posts regarding dime novels and fantasy books for a more detailed look at why these books are so dangerous.)  My goal for this part of my blog is to provide an easily searched archive of book reviews, categorized by age group, genre, and time period, with links to the actual books, and Librivox recordings (if available).  I am working on it specifically with homeschooling mothers and and students in mind, who simply don't have time to waste on mediocre or bad books that have been applauded simply because they were popular.  And sometimes there are "hidden jewels" that have been overlooked by many people, but are wonderful reading.

     So- let us read to the greater glory of God!

Understanding this page:
I know this page is a bit messy.  It is very much a work in progress, and hopefully will become easier to understand as I improve it.  I am categorizing various books by age group and genre.  The headings and titles are in bold.  When I recommend multiple books by the same author, the author's name will be a bold link.  The link will take you to the list of titles by that author available on Internet Archive, Google Books, or Gutenberg.  If I have done a blog post about an author or his/ her books, I will link to it below the author's name, or link it to the title of the book.  You will see many references to Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, Google Books, and Librivox.org on this page.  Librivox is an online audio book library, and is completely free.  It is a volunteer run organization, and I have helped out with some books; mainly as a proof-listener.  Some of the readers are better than others.  Two of the best readers for some of the children's literature are Lynne Thomson and Karen Shallenberg.  The other sites are free ebook libraries.   
I have rated the books from 0-10, with 0 being very poor quality or bad, and 10 being very excellent.  For the books I have not yet reviewed, look at the ratings to get an idea of my opinion of them.  Please keep in mind however that this is in many cases my personal opinion, but based upon the Bible and my understanding of good books.  I always judge first for content, and then for other more technical elements.
Also, since the books are necessarily judged by different standards, you will see some overtly Christian books rated lower than some apparently non-Christian books.  This is because a professedly Christian book is judged more strictly than a non-Christian book.
So if you see a Christian book rated at an 8, you can know that it is a much higher rating than a non-Christian book which is also rated 8.
(I hope this isn't too confusing!)
Enjoy!


Categories:

The Chronicles of Narnia:  Allegory, or Trojan Horse?

Fantasy series:


Books to avoid/ not recommended:

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis  (1)
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White  (3)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, by Kate Douglas Wiggin  (6)
To Have and To Hold, by Mary Johnston  (4)
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (2)
(To understand why I have rated Tolkien's books so low, please read the fantasy articles at the link above.)





Children's Read-aloud:

These are books we have enjoyed as a family in the past as read- alouds, and/ or books I have found are suitable for all ages.  (I have not reviewed all these books yet, please be patient as it will be quite a while before I get around to doing so!)


The Wrestler of Phillipi, by Fannie Newberry

Joel, a Boy of Gallilee, by Annie Fellows Johnston
This is also on Librivox!  You can listen to it for free here.
 (Age range:  7-14)

 Books by A.L.O.E.  (Charlotte Maria Tucker)

(Blog post about A.L.O.E.)

On Gutenberg (not many titles)
On Internet Archive
On Google Books 

The Giant Killer  10

The Giant Killer is one of Charlotte Maria Tucker's best books.  Click the link above for my review of this book and its sequel.
Librivox recording of The Giant Killer, read by Lynne Thomson.
(Age range:  5-110)
Sequel:  The Roby Family, or Battling with the World  9
(Please note that not all A.L.O.E.'s books are suitable for young listeners.  Please use discretion.)

Other books by A.L.O.E.
A.L.O.E.

The Mine 8
The Robbers' Cave 9
Seven Perils Passed 7
Ned Franks: The Christian's Panoply 10
Librivox recording of Ned Franks





 9 The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss

(Age range:  7- 14)
Librivox recording by Kara Shallenberg

 8 Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

(Age range:  5- 12)
Librivox recording by Kara Shallenberg


Books by Amy Le Feuvre

Amy Le Feuvre's books are highly entertaining, as she portrays the play and fancies of children, skilfully weaving into her stories important lessons.  The way of salvation, and our duties to God and man are clearly laid out.  There are a few doctrinal errors, but overall, she presents excellent lessons in an easily understood and interesting format.
However, wisdom should be used in determining if and when to allow children to read or listen to these books, for she often includes mischievous escapades in her stories, and these are likely to stir up folly in younger children.
Among others, she wrote:

Teddy's Button 8
Probable Sons 8
Jill's Red Bag 8
The Carved Cupboard 7

Visit this blog post for a more detailed review:  Amy Le Feuvre:  A Child's Author

Christoph von Schmid


The Basket of Flowers  7

Rosa of Linden Castle  8

Christy's Old Organ, by O. F. Walton 8




Fern's Hollow  (9)
&
The Children of Cloverly  (7)
(I have read very few books by Hesba Stretton.  I liked Fern's Hollow much better than The Children of Cloverly, because of the sad ending of the latter, but they are both good.  They were family read-alouds for us.)



Basil; Or Honesty and Industry, by Charlotte O'Brien 7


Mary Jones and Her Bible, by Mary E. Ropes 8


Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House Series are great read-aloud books, despite some flaws.  There are parts that should either be skipped or explained to children (such as Santa Claus), but overall, these are deservedly popular books.  These books are (unfortunately) still under copyright, so there is not a free version online (to my knowledge).  They have been recorded by Cherry Jones, who is a perfect reader for them.  I believe the audiobooks can be found on YouTube.


The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth G. Speare


Mignonette,  and other books by Agnes Giberne  (8)
I have found Agnes Giberne to be an excellent author.  She writes good stories, and has a special ability to explain important doctrine in her stories in a clear, simple way (particularly the doctrines of grace.)





Older Children, Historical Fiction:

(These are all books for both boys or girls.  For more girl-specific books, please look under that heading below.)

Robert Michael Ballantyne

R. M. Ballantyne was a Scottish author who wrote over a hundred books.  He was distinctly Christian, and is, on the whole, my favorite author.  There are occasionally things in his books which I don't agree with, and sometimes he overdoes the romance element in his book (not that it's all lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey, or full of clandestine relationships, just there is an occasional kiss, or something of that nature.)  It has been said that "what G.A. Henty did for a boy's knowledge of history, R. M. Ballantyne did for his knowledge of geography", or something to that effect.  He also wrote about "how things work"- thus you will learn about the laying of the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, the London postal service, the Fire Brigade, and diving technologies in the 19th century, among other things.  Visit the Gutenberg link to find over a hundred of his books.  Below are listed some of my favorites.

Ballantyne on Gutenberg


Twice Bought, a tale of the Oregon Gold fields  10
(Possibly my favorite Ballantyne.)


The Gorilla Hunters  9
(Sequel to The Coral Island)

Fighting the Flames  8
(A tale of the London Fire Brigade.)

The Island Queen  9
(The story of Dominic, Otto and Pauline Rigonda, three siblings who are blown onto an island after being shipwrecked, and are later joined by the immigrant passengers and crew of a ship that is wrecked on the same island.  When the question of government comes up, Pauline is chosen to be queen, and the people work on improving the island for some time, despite internal dissensions, and an attack by savages.  But they cannot resist natural forces, and eventually are forced to leave the island, when the three siblings are able to return to England and rejoin their parents.)


The Middy and the Moors, and Algerine Tale  8
Many people are ignorant of the fact that for years the city of Algiers, on the north coast of Africa, was a nest of pirates.  They levied taxes upon all the vessels that went to and fro in the Mediterranean, and held thousands of slaves.  In this serio-comic tale, Ballantyne tells part of the story of Algiers, through the eyes of a young British midshipman, who is captured by the pirates and sold as a slave.  He is kept in Algiers for several years before finally being released and going home.



G. A. Henty's Books for boys (and girls...)

Henty on Gutenberg*

* Note:  One of the books on Gutenberg is a Henty counterfeit.  It is part of the same file as The Golden Canyon (not the best), and is called The Stone Chest.  The author of The Stone Chest is unknown, but it was not Henty.
Please see this blog post about G. A. Henty:  Henty's Books...

A note regarding the first Henty to be read....  It seems that everyone I've talked to who doesn't like G. A. Henty has started with The Dragon and the Raven, and not gotten past the third chapter.  This is because this book starts a bit slowly.  It is one of my favorites now, but when I first started reading it, I detested it.  Mama would threaten me with it when I was stuck on The Chronicles of Narnia (more about them in a separate blog post).  When I finally read the whole book, I really liked it.  A good Henty to start with though is With Lee in Virginia, (a tale of the American Civil War), or In Freedom's Cause (a tale of Wallace and Bruce).

Henty is on Librivox!

(Please note that I do not recommend The Curse of Carne's Hold.  This is one of the few works of Henty which is almost purely fictional, and is not very good.  Neither is All But Lost, or A Search for a Secret.  Both of these latter were re-written and condensed in Captain Bayley's Heir, and One of the 28th.  These are both good.)



C. H. Pearson

Cabin on the Prairie  10
&
Cabin in the North Woods  9
Please see this (short) blog post for a review of this book:  Cabin on the Prairie...


James Fenimore Cooper

J. F. Cooper was the first great American novelist.  While his books are far from perfect, most of them that I have read so far are well worth the time and trouble it takes to read them.  He wrote about frontier life as one who lived at a time when the men who fought the American Revolution were still living, and their parents/ grandparents still remembered the French and Indian war, so he had a unique perspective on the times and circumstances he wrote about.  His attention to detail and character developement, while they may make his books "boring" to some readers, really color in the story.  The language and writing style used will really stretch the average reader, so these are also a good exercise for improving your reading skills!
You will notice that none of the books below have a rating higher than 7.  This is because Cooper frequently expresses the Leatherstocking's opinion that as long as a person is sincere, they will make it to heaven all right.  For this reason, discretion and discussion are advised, and some may choose to bypass these books altogether.
If you aren't interested in reading at this level, or have a child that can handle the story, but struggles with the wording, check out the books that are recorded for Librivox.  This takes the work out of reading, but still provides the story and education.


The Spy (Cooper's first great novel) (6)
The Deerslayer  (Review) (7)
The Last of the Mohicans  (6)
The Pathfinder  (5)
The Pioneers  (7)
The Prairie  (6)


Jules Verne
Jules Verne is best known for his book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but wrote many other interesting and instructive books.  Not all his books are worthwhile, but most of the ones I have read have been pretty good.  Undoubtedly my favorite of his books is Michael Strogoff (click for my review), followed by Around the World in 80 Days.  He had amazing foresight; realizing where developing technology was going, and what was scientifically possible.  While his perspective is often that of an enthusiast, many of the projects and ideas presented in his books have actually been carried out.  Of course, the Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a classic example of this.  (In fact, several US Army subs have been named Nautilus, including the first successful nuclear powered submarine.)
Please note however:  Jules Verne is not a strong Christian author.  He seems to have had a high respect for God and religion, but, at best, his theology was weak.  Also, in a few places in his books (especially Journey to the Center of the Earth) he references an evolutionary origin of life.

Here are a few of Jules Verne's books:

Michael Strogoff; Courier of the Czar (My favorite by Verne)

Around the World in 80 Days

800 Leagues on the Amazon

A Journey into the Interior of the Earth 
(Note:  There are two translations of this book available, but one is a complete re-write, adding and omitting portions, and changing names.  To make things more confusing, the two names this book is known by (Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Journey to the Interior of the Earth) are used interchangeably.  The one I have linked to here is the correct version.)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
&
The Mysterious Island (sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Not recommended:  Dick Sands, The Boy Captain  (This book has little educational value and is unrealistic, quite intense (graphic), and too sensational.)

Jules Verne's books are available on:
Gutenberg
Librivox
Internet Archive


Charlotte Mary Yonge
(Wikipedia biography linked to name.)
Yonge was a very prolific Anglican authoress during the Victorian period.
I have only begun reading books by this author recently.  Below are some of  the titles I have read so far, with my rating of each.  I detest depressing books, and generally hate any book where the main character dies, which dislike has caused Evan to tease me a good deal.  Yonge however, is quickly becoming a favorite author, in spite of killing her main characters often enough to create a wholesome concern for their safety when reading her books.  One of my favorite things about her books is the way she frequently portrays Christian forgiveness, and doing good to one's enemies.  There are some obvious doctrinal differences (such as infant baptism) since she was a staunch Anglican, but overall they are very good.
Do be warned though:  Some of these books contain violence, in one form or another, and a few are quite intense.
A few of her books are available on Librivox.

The Armourer's 'Prentices  (7)
(Blog post with links to text.)
The Heir of Redclyffe  (rather sad, but excellent, and one of the most popular novels of her time) (8)
The Little Duke:  Richard the Fearless (great for younger children)  (8)
The Prince and the Page (a bit sad)  (7)
The Lances of Lynwood  (8)
The Daisy Chain, and The Trial  (9)
(Review + link to text.)

Joseph A. Altsheler

Joseph A. Altsheler was a dime novelist, and one of the few whose books actually teach some history.  His series (6 books) about the Civil War is pretty good, and so is his series (3 books) about the Mexican War (remember the Alamo!).
However, it does not appear from his books that Altsheler was a Christian, and they are dime novels.  Be careful giving them to children, as you do not want them to develop a taste for high-intensity, fast paced stories.
Please visit this blog post for more info and links to specific books.


The Key to the Riddle, by Margaret S. Comrie  (8)


Prisoners of the Sea, by Florence M. Kingsley  (6)



Girls' Books:

(It has always seemed harder to find good books that were specifically for girls, than those which can be for girls or boys, or books specifically for boys.)



Charlotte Mary Yonge
(I know I already mentioned C. M. Yonge above, but I want to mention her specifically in the girl's section too.  Her books are too good to miss out on.)

Yonge was a very prolific Anglican authoress during the Victorian period.
I have only begun reading books by this author recently.  Below are the ones I have read so far, with my rating of each.  I detest depressing books, and generally hate any book where the main character dies, which dislike has caused Evan to tease me a good deal.  Yonge however, is quickly becoming a favorite author, in spite of killing her main characters often enough to create a wholesome concern for their safety when reading her books.  One of my favorite things about her books is the way she frequently portrays Christian forgiveness, and doing good to one's enemies.  There are some obvious doctrinal differences (such as infant baptism) since she was a staunch Anglican, but overall they are very good.
Do be warned though:  Most of these books contain violence, in one form or another, and some are quite intense.
A few of her books are available on Librivox.

The Armourer's 'Prentices  7
(Blog post with links to text.)
The Heir of Redclyffe  (rather sad, but good) 8
The Little Duke:  Richard the Fearless (great for younger children)  8
The Prince and the Page (a bit sad)  7
The Lances of Lynwood  8
The Dove in the Eagles' Nest  7
The Daisy Chain  (9)
The Pillars of the House Vol. 1 (8)
Pillars of the House Vol. 2



The Elsie Dinsmore series

 Especially:
1. Elsie Dinsmore
2.  Elsie's Holiday
3.  Elsie's Girlhood
4.  Elsie's Womanhood
5.  Elsie's Motherhood
6.  Elsie's Children
 
I know these books are far from perfect, and there have been numerous complaints made that Elsie "is just too perfect".  I have said the same thing many times, and I understand that these books are flawed in some areas.  However, for the most part, they are God-honoring, encouraging books, presenting a fairly accurate picture of life for the wealthy Southerners near the time of the Civil War.
Despite their faults, I believe that the Lord really used these books in my life, to originally turn me away from being a wild tom-boy, and give me a taste for what is more proper and estimable in a young lady.
I think that the series was stretched out too far, that is, there were too many books written involving the same characters.  However, for a stretched series, this is definitely one of the better ones.  Personally though, the first six books are all I really recommend.  There are more problems with some of the later books.
Most of the Elsie books are available on Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Google Books
Quite a few have also been recorded for Librivox.


A.L.O.E. (Charlotte Maria Tucker)
(See above under heading "Children's Read-Aloud".)

Here are a few of Tucker's books that are more suitable for older readers:

The Haunted Room (9)
The Spanish Cavalier, a story of Seville  (8)
Cyril Ashley  (8)
Flora, or Self-Deception  (8)
(Teaches a good lesson, but is a very sober book.)
The Golden Fleece  (8)
The Lost Jewel  (9)
(Semi-allegorical.)
War and Peace  (7)
Escape from the Eagle's Nest (7)
Ned Franks:  The Christian's Panoply  (10)
(This book is divided into semi-stand-alone chapters, and each demonstrates a different fruit of the Spirit.  Great for young and old!)

So far, only a few of A.L.O.E.'s books have been recorded for Librivox.



 Christoph von Schmid 
(See above under heading "Children's Read-Aloud".)  Christoph von Schmid had a lot of good ideas for books, but his presentation of the story is not very impressive.



Emily S. Holt
Holt wrote historical fiction for girls.  Many of her books are heavy on the history, and comparatively light on the fiction, but they are worth reading.  I have read a half-dozen or so, and they have helped me understand some English history which was unfamiliar to me.
For a book review of Lady Sybil's Choice, please visit this blog post.
Emily S. Holt's books are available on Gutenberg, Archive, and Google Books.

The House of Love, by Elizabeth Cheney  (6)



Non-fiction:

The Man Eaters of Tsavo  (man eating lions), by Col. Patterson (7) (small portions graphic)
How I Filmed the War (WWI), by Geoffrey H. Malins (6)  (fairly graphic)



Older Children, Christian Literature

In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon   (7)

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